Best Solar Companies in Iowa

We compared 54 brands and chose the top solar energy companies

    • SunPower
      3.6(2,279)
    • ShopSolar
      4.7(149)

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      Best Solar Companies in Iowa

      We compared popular solar companies on ratings and reviews, equipment options, warranties, availability and other factors to choose our top picks for Iowa. Read our full methodology for all the details. Our picks may be Authorized Partners who compensate us — this does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may impact the order in which companies appear.

      Why trust ConsumerAffairs?
      • Our recommendations are based on what reviewers say.
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      The best solar companies reviewed

      SunPower

      Buyer's Choice Award Winner
      Max. panel efficiency
      22.8%
      Payment options
      Cash, loan, lease
      Warranty
      25 years
      Year founded
      1985
      2x Award Winner
      Selected for having one of the highest satisfaction rates for Best Customer Service and Best for Installation

      SunPower is a national provider that uses proprietary high-efficiency panel technology. We also like that the SunVault storage battery is excellent for maximizing energy savings during peak rate times.

      But what really sets SunPower apart is its seamless solar panel installation process. Local reps evaluate your home energy needs, design a custom system, help secure any necessary permits and work out financing options. They work with local installers to complete the project, and then SunPower’s monitoring app lets you track the system’s performance.

      People generally like that SunPower is a reliable company with a solid warranty. One customer we talked to, Michael in Maryville, said he liked all the reps: “They took care (of) what I needed. They got me up to date when everything was going to happen.” When there was “a little hiccup” with his inverters, “they came out and fixed what needed to be fixed.”

      SunPower benefits

      • 35+ years of experience
      • Comprehensive 25-year warranty
      • Battery storage options
      • Ongoing support

      SunPower’s “Complete Confidence Warranty” covers your entire solar energy system for 25 years, including the panels, inverter, racking and monitoring. The company repairs or replaces equipment at no cost to you (including labor and shipping).

      Financing options

      • Loans: Qualified customers can find reasonable rates with no money down. All financing approvals and processing happen through the mySunPower online portal.
      • Leases: Customers pay a monthly fee to use solar panels that SunPower owns. SunPower reimburses you if your solar system doesn’t perform as guaranteed. You can transfer the agreement to a new buyer if you sell your home.

      We’ve heard some complaints about installation delays from Archie in Woodridge and David in Clayton. Archie said there were delays because of paperwork, and “the whole thing took eight weeks.”

      David, who is overall satisfied with SunPower, told us that “the only thing that held it up was some permitting and the power company. But the installers were very professional, worked very quickly and got the system that we wanted up.”

      SunPower also isn’t always the cheapest option. “I feel good that even though I spent a little more money than I could have with another vendor,” David added. “if anything ever happens to the system, even though it’s working well now, I can just call SunPower and they’ll take care of it.”

      ShopSolar

      Buyer's Choice Award Winner
      Max. panel efficiency
      Varies
      Payment options
      Cash, loan
      Warranty
      Varies
      Year founded
      2018
      1x Award Winner
      Selected for having one of the highest satisfaction rates for Best Customer Service

      ShopSolar is a good choice if you need to buy solar equipment for DIY projects. It’s great for homes, RVs and outbuildings. You can find new and used solar panels, solar storage batteries, inverters, charge controllers, cabling and hardware, mounts and racks — everything needed for an off-grid or hybrid setup.

      People like that ShopSolar has a nice selection of equipment, fast deliveries and good communication. The online company sells custom solar kits and stocks brands like Panasonic, REC, Renogy, Canadian Solar and EcoFlow. Orders typically arrive within 10 business days.

      ShopSolar benefits

      • Free shipping
      • Price-match guarantee
      • 30-day return policy
      • Lifetime customer support

      ShopSolar is an authorized distributor of all the brands it sells, so any equipment you buy is covered by the individual manufacturers’ warranties. If you run into a warranty issue, reps can help you contact the equipment manufacturer.

      Payment options

      • Online payments: ShopSolar accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, Shop Pay and Diners Club International.
      • Financing: ShopSolar partners with Affirm on financing. Customers can make payments every two weeks or once a month for up to 36 months. Annual percentage rates (APRs) range from 0% to 36%.

      Some customers experienced problems with their purchases, such as damaged or faulty equipment, but ShopSolarKits generally resolved these issues with refunds or replacements.

      The important thing to keep in mind is that ShopSolar doesn’t offer professional installation services. It’s best to know a little about solar panels and electrical work, or you might get frustrated with the process or install something incorrectly.

      » DIY SOLAR PANELS: Pros, cons and installation guide

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        Iowa solar panel buyers guide

        If you've been thinking about going solar in Iowa but aren’t sure where to start, ConsumerAffairs is here to help you compare your options and get the best deal. Our team has talked to several solar customers in Iowa — here’s what to expect and what to look out for.

        Key insights

        • Residential solar panel installations cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 or more. The size of your solar panel system is the biggest factor in total costs.
        • The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the most significant way to lower the cost of installing solar panels. Iowa also has additional financial incentives to make going solar more affordable.
        • Leasing your solar equipment can minimize the initial cost, but you won’t be eligible for the federal solar ITC because you won’t actually pay for ownership of the equipment.

        Understanding solar energy in Iowa

        Solar energy utilizes photovoltaic cell technology to convert sunlight into electricity. Systems contain solar panels, mounting equipment, wiring, one or more inverters and sometimes batteries.

        Typical solar installations in Iowa are grid-connected systems. This means solar panels power homes and businesses during the day, but the building can use supplemental power from the grid as needed.

        How much does it cost to install solar panels in Iowa?

        Average solar panel costs in Iowa are comparable to the national average (around $20,000). The size of your system plays a big factor in how much it costs overall. On the higher end, Jennifer in Colfax told us her dad’s solar panel system cost $38,000.

        The average cost doesn’t include the cost of a solar storage battery — sometimes, batteries are almost as much as the panels. Solar batteries are a must if you want real energy independence and are essential if you go off-grid. Permitting, utility fees and maintenance also add to the cost of going solar.

        How can I pay for solar panels?

        There are a few ways to pay for a residential solar energy system in Iowa. You have the option to pay the full cost upfront, but many people choose to finance their system through a solar loan.

        Leasing is cheaper upfront, but you’ll be disqualified from some of the best financial incentives, including the 30% federal solar investment tax credit. It could also (potentially) make it harder to sell your house.

        If you’re considering a solar loan or lease, always ask:

        • Is there a down payment?
        • How much will I pay per month?
        • Will my monthly payments increase, and if so, by how much?
        • Do you put a lien on my house?

        » COMPARE: Solar costs in other states

        What solar incentives are available in Iowa?

        Residents can take advantage of local solar tax breaks and rebates. Still, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of going solar in Iowa.

        If you install a residential solar panel system by the end of 2032, you will receive a federal income tax credit worth 30% of the system's total cost — including equipment, labor and permits.

        » MORE: Iowa solar incentives 

        Net metering in Iowa

        Net metering lets Iowa homeowners with solar panels send the excess electricity their panels generate back to their electric company. Typically, any extra solar energy would be stored in batteries for later use. But with net metering, you can get credit on your electric bill instead.

        There are two main electric companies in Iowa that offer net metering: MidAmerican Energy and Interstate Power and Light (IPL). The Iowa Utilities Board has stated that net metering is an option for 89% of regular households in the state that have solar panels. Any solar energy system that is under 500 kW in size can participate in net metering.

        Living here in the Midwest, you catch as much sun as you can in the summer and whatever you can in the winter is kind of gravy.”
        — Jared in Fairmount

        Iowa's net metering rules require electric companies to pay customers for their excess solar electricity production. The rate they must pay is called the "avoided cost rate."

        This means customers get a credit on future electric bills equal to the extra power their solar panels fed into the grid. So, the more excess solar electricity you produce, the more you can lower your electricity costs.

        » EXPLORE: Where solar savings go the furthest

        How to choose a solar company in Iowa

        With the right solar partner, you’ll be on your way to reaping the many short- and long-term rewards of switching to solar energy. These hiring best practices will help you choose an installer that delivers top-quality system performance.

        What to look for in a solar installation company

        We’ve talked to thousands of solar customers across the country. The best solar energy companies have a few things in common: experience, licensing and certifications, detailed project quotes and warranties. Here are a few more things to look for.

        • Long time in business: Look for companies with plenty of experience installing solar panels in Iowa. Local knowledge is valuable in navigating state-specific regulations and incentives.
        • Good local reviews: Research the company's track record and reputation. Look for positive customer reviews, ratings and testimonials.
        • Free consultations: Get multiple quotes from different solar companies to compare prices and services. Be cautious of companies that provide significantly lower quotes than others — this may indicate lower quality.
        • Comprehensive service: Choose a company that provides the services and products you want, like battery storage, electric vehicle chargers or a monitoring system to ensure optimal output. It’s also a smart idea to ask about critter guards.
        • Solid warranty: A reputable company should offer comprehensive warranties to protect your investment. Look for warranties that last at least 10 to 25 years.
        • Licensed, insured and certified: Ensure the company is appropriately licensed, insured and has NABCEP-certified installers. This protects you and shows the employees take their business seriously.
        • Transparent terms: Carefully review proposals and financials carefully, understand legal considerations and ask about maintenance before signing an agreement with any solar company. If you don’t understand something about the payment terms, warranty or ongoing services, ask.
        • Ongoing support: Quality solar panels last at least 25 to 30 years, so you want a company that’s still around if your system needs service after installation. Some of the newer, less reputable solar companies might not exist next year. Honest communication is essential before, during and after the installation process.

        » MORE: Tips for getting the best solar quotes

        Are solar panels worth it in Iowa?

        For many, going solar in Iowa is worth it for reducing utility bills and reliance on local power companies. Solar customers in Benton, Decorah, Dubuque, Audubon and Fairmount reported significant energy savings, warmer homes and positive experiences with the solar panel installations.

        “We did not have to pay for electricity our first three months, and then we've had a greatly reduced last two months.” Jared in Fairmount said. “Living here in the Midwest, you catch as much sun as you can in the summer and whatever you can in the winter is kind of gravy.”

        Iowa receives an average of 3.5 to 4.5 peak sunlight hours a day.

        You get the most savings from going solar if you purchase your system upfront, but the significant initial investment leads many people to finance their equipment through a solar loan. If you finance, it’s worth it if your loan payment is cheaper than your current utility bill.

        For others, like Allissa in Decorah, it’s more about reducing carbon footprints. “I am very glad I made this purchase because I know it is good for the environment and the future,” she told us.

        Depending on the size of your system and other factors, it might not cost as much as you think. “I got a solar panel that I never would've dreamed I could afford,” Connor in Dubuque told us. “I think I easily got my money back in savings since I got my solar power panel installed in my house. Plus it wasn't that expensive to begin with so I knew it would be that way.“

        » STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

        Methodology: How we picked the best solar companies in Iowa

        The ConsumerAffairs Research Team objectively evaluates solar providers to highlight those best equipped to meet most homeowners' needs. To choose our top picks for this guide, we started with 31 popular providers. First, we narrowed it down to the ones available in Iowa. We then weighted several key features to get our final rankings:

        Reviews, ratings and testimonials: 40%
        We analyzed verified customer reviews and ratings to gauge real-world satisfaction.

        Overall reputation: 20%
        We considered each company's history, mission and value. Companies with generally positive feedback on our site scored highest in this aspect.

        Warranties: 20%
        A long warranty is important. We compared both product and craftsmanship warranties available from our top picks. All of our top picks have warranties of at least 25 years.

        Equipment selection: 10%
        We evaluated each company’s selection of solar panels, storage batteries and inverters. Those with proprietary technology or a wide equipment selection from trusted brands ranked highest.

        Monitoring and maintenance: 10%
        We gave preference to companies that offer real-time monitoring, regular maintenance services and solid after-sales support.

        To recap, our top picks for the best solar companies in Iowa:

        • Our pick for professional installation: SunPower
        • Our pick for DIY projects: ShopSolar

        Guide sources

        ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

        1. DSIRE, “Iowa Solar Programs.” Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.
        2. EcoWatch, “Solar Panel Cost in Iowa.” Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.
        3. EnergySage, “The cost of solar panels in Iowa.” Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.
        4. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Iowa Solar.” Accessed Jan. 17, 2024.

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